While Western Montana's local food system has certainly grown over the past twenty years, it's nothing like it used to be in the 1950s or 1960s! The number of farms in Missoula County dropped by almost half (48%) between 1950 and 1974 but the number has risen fairly consistently since then (although we're still not caught up with 1950). The total acreage being farmed has dropped significantly and steadily. Basically, this means that overall, we're losing our larger farms while the number of small farms has increased.
For more info on our production history, check out the Community Food Assessment that CFAC members conducted (and that CFAC came out of!) in 2004.
How Can We Help?
Through our Montana Food Economy Initiative and our Food Systems Committee, we're working to convene regional working groups that will serve as communities of practice to improve production and distribution, identify and evaluate barriers, and make solutions happen!
Of course, another great way to help us increase production is to support your local farmers! The more demand we create, the more supply will follow. Also key to this strategy is to Ask for Local when you're at your local grocery store, restaurant, school, hospital, or anywhere else where you eat food! One of the biggest steps to getting those larger farms back is creating big-scale demand - the kind of demand that only institutions and businesses can really create. So Ask for Local!